8

I just failed this audit:

https://stackoverflow.com/review/reopen/3259718

It was marked closed as "unclear what you're asking". That's not so; the question is perfectly clear. However, it is asking for answerers to "find a ... specific off site resource". Thus the question should be closed.

Is my reasoning wrong? Alternatively, are we supposed to reopen and then reclose questions using the correct reason? (Robert Harvey's answer here suggests that doing so is discouraged.)

  • 1
    Tricky; it's obviously a tool that others use, and the documentation between versions may have changed. Is that interpretation of the rule too literal? I wonder. – Makoto Oct 31 '13 at 17:55
  • As a review audit, it is not ideal. My interpretation is it is nothing more than a request for an external resource, so should be closed as such. – psubsee2003 Oct 31 '13 at 18:15
  • @Makoto raises a good point. However, my understanding - which may well be wrong - was that audits are supposed to be immediately obvious, with the goal of catching robo-reviewers rather than educating users on edge cases. – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 18:21
  • @EsotericScreenName That's the goal, but audits are selected by an alogorithm so you are always going to have problem questions regardless of the algorithm. – psubsee2003 Oct 31 '13 at 18:23
  • @psubsee2003 I'm aware; that's why I posted on meta: so inappropriately selected audits can be removed from circulation (or I can be told why it's a good audit and I should have reopened it). – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 18:29
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    @EsotericScreenName I'm trying to find the link, but I can't at the moment. But it has been stated several times that the best way to ensure a close/reopen post is not used in the future is to take the opposite action (so vote to close outside the queue and it won't get selected again) – psubsee2003 Oct 31 '13 at 19:00
  • @psubsee2003 Didn't know about that, thanks. – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 19:09
7

You're misquoting that off-topic reason. It reads:

Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

Note that the word "specific" doesn't appear anywhere - indeed, a big problem with the questions this reason was created to address is that they're not specific, thus opening the door to lazy recommendations and spam. Indeed, the advice linked to is all about being more specific as to the problem being solved.

The question used in this audit isn't asking for folks to recommend their favorite Font Awesome reference - it's just looking for the canonical docs for a specific version of the software, and includes specific details as to where that documentation used to be found and how it's failing now. It seems quite specific.

While that might seem like an odd question to ask, it's more common than you might realize: some companies are, sadly, crap at maintaining stable links to stuff like this.

As such, there's only really one possible answer - thus eliminating the problems of subjectiveness and spam-attraction inherent in "recommendation" questions.

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    I disagree that there's only one possible answer, as any external link to any mirror of the docs answers the question, and it's essentially asking for a link only answer. But certainly "what JavaScript library should I use for drag and drop" this ain't. – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 19:26
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    @EsotericScreenName Similar question, tons of votes, high number of views.. stackoverflow.com/questions/820412/… – Josh Crozier Oct 31 '13 at 19:30
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    @JoshC Those don't make it a good, on-topic question. Also, it's from 2009, when question standards were a lot different. – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 19:31
  • @EsotericScreenName I agree - it wasn't a good question. But technically neither of them are recommendations. – Josh Crozier Oct 31 '13 at 19:32
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    @JoshC You've linked a question that's too broad and asks several implementation/usage/TOS questions; the audit question asks for a link to some documentation. I fail to understand the relevance of your example, as the questions are substantially different. The fact that the top answers on both are piles of links isn't relevant. – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 19:39
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    The title of that question was a bit misleading, @Esoteric - jQuery UI is a collection of scripts, plugins, and CSS themes; the confusion arose then because linking to these is slightly less trivial than just using the base library (for which the URLs are well-documented and widely used). – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 19:42
  • I think the word "recommendation" is muddying things, so I have edited it out of the question. The relevant portion of the close reason is "find a specific off site resource". Certainly this question would be useful to future visitors looking for that documentation, and also certainly it clearly requests that someone locate a specific off site resource. If it's on topic (I don't know if it is or not at this point; I just think it's not a helpful audit), then perhaps the close reason wording should be changed? – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 19:51
  • See my edit, @Esoteric. – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 20:00
  • @ShogDYIN' You're right, thanks for clearing that up. – Esoteric Screen Name Oct 31 '13 at 20:03

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